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Lime Kiln Lighthouse, San Juan Island, WA. (Hadi Dadashian photo)

Me, hiking along the edge of the United States. San Juan Island photo by Hadi Dadashian.

I wear a leg brace to walk.

I consider myself fortunate to have it.  I am grateful for its gift of mobility.

My blue brace is light, and custom-made in Sweden, and very, very expensive.

I used to be ashamed to show it.   For years, airport security was a humiliating, degrading experience.

And then I grew to accept my disability.

I learned how not to internalize society’s judgments — perceived or real — about people like me.

Still.

We, people with disabilities, still encounter discrimination, sometimes daily.

As a rehabilitation counselor, I become a stronger advocate for people with disabilities every time I hear about the stigma they face.

So, when I must buy new shoes — required more often to accommodate the brace — I am cautious, because the non-disabled can be easily startled.  Customers stare.  On occasion, small children gape and point.

I am gracious and use a soothing voice, especially with young people not accustomed to dealing with disabilities.

But when a salesperson acts as if my disability — my inability to walk without a brace — is contagious, I sigh.

I choose not to shop there again.

It’s a sunny day, a day made for walking, and I leave with gladness in my heart for everyone who helped me reach this mental place of acceptance.

I am grateful for every step my space-age brace allows me to make.  I walk with strength, inside and out.

I embrace my tech-aided ability to move with joy.

 

 

 

 

 

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